Kazarman Travel Blog› entry 357 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here who contributed to and improved my trip: Julia (Russia), Sigrid (Belgium)
The mining town of Kazarman has little to interest the passing tourist, but normally serves as a stopping point on the road to Jalal Abad, some 140km further West. The Lousy Planet contained very little info on the town, so the three of us decided that it would probably be best to head the the house of the co-coordinator of the CBT and seek advice on accommodation.
Our driver waited until the woman turned up and then bade farewell. He had been a like able bloke, who had even bought us some drinks along the way, so it made me feel much better to be handing over 3000 Som ($83) to someone who had a decent character, unlike almost every other taxi shark in Naryn.
The CBT coordinator obviously saw the dollar signs before her eyes, when she introduced herself to us. Her opening price for a room was 450 Som ($12.50), but Julia and I explained we literally only had 600 Som ($16.50) left between us and this was all we could offer her for our room. There hadn't been an ATM in the last three places we had visited and I had already exchanged all my dollars into Som and spent them, so this was genuinely the money we were left with. After a moments thought, she agreed to let us stay for that price.
The room we were shown to was actually very nice, and the outside toilet and shower were clean and usable. Once we had settled in, Sigrid ordered Dinner from the woman, whilst Julia and I made do with some instant noodles and instant potatoes that we had in our bags, left over from our trip to Kol Ukok.
The three of us sat around the dining table for the remainder of the evening, swapping travel stories and advice and planning our trip on the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan. It was nearly 01.00 when we went off to bed, as we became aware that we had an early start the following morning.
Our 300 Som not only paid for our bed, but also breakfast the following morning - for what it was worth. A sorry looking porridge was brought to us, which was not only watery, but had a layer of fat floating on the top of it. The three of us took tentative mouthfuls before sliding it away into the middle of the table. A pot of tea was next to be sampled, but this was incredibly weak, presumably the tea leaves from last night had been re used.
We packed our belongings and made the five minute walk to the bus station, to try and get a shared taxi to Jalal Abad. The CBT coordinator had tried to arrange this for us, but was asking for 900 Som ($25) per person, which we knew was ludicrous. What annoys me is that the CBT is so highly recommended in the Lousy Planet as it stands for 'Community Based Tourism' and supposedly spreads much needed money throughout the community. From what i've seen of it so far, it only ever benefits a select few. In Kazarman's case, the woman who runs the CBT gets everything, she supplies the accommodation, the food, organises tours and even wants in on the transport.
The first offer at the bus station that we received was from a guy asking for 800 Som plus a charge for our bags, but we declined this. He then insisted he was the last taxi of the day, even though it was still only 09.00 and drove off, only to return 20 minutes later with his next offer. He now said it was 500 Som per person, but we needed to pay for four people, even though he had someone to pay for the fourth seat already! Once again we refused point blank and continued to wait.
As we sat in the shade, a farmer approached us to have a natter and pass the time.
The journey took us over a high mountain pass and like the previous day, the car was struggling badly at times. We broke down five times, but the main thing is that it lasted the distance! On the way we passed some fields that were filled with blooming yellow sunflowers, which were incredibly beautiful.
When we arrived in Jalal Abad just after 15.30, our mission was to find an ATM so as i could get some money, but the only one in town was out of service. Luckily the bank gave cash advances, so i managed to get some money to pay the driver, buy some kebabs and get the bus tickets on to Osh!